Fantasy Football: Week 13 breakdown and analysis

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

After losing their first matchup despite out-gaining the Seahawks by two yards per play, the 49ers somehow lost Sunday’s rematch while averaging 9.5 yards per pass compared to Seattle’s 4.4. The 49ers had their returner stretchered off during their first kick return, lost a fumble on the kickoff return to open the second half and surrendered a long touchdown on a fake punt, as SF continues to find comical ways to lose games.

Jimmy Garoppolo entered leading the NFL in EPA/play since Week 5 and somehow had 105 passing yards during San Francisco’s final drive that fell short of the end zone. Jimmy G missed Deebo Samuel and had two extremely ugly interceptions, while also failing to get a first down on a 4th-and-1 rush attempt while Trey Lance mysteriously watched from the sidelines … Elijah Mitchell was held in check but scored (25 opportunities), returned after a concussion scare and was again the target of some designed screens; only health can prevent the rookie from being a weekly top-five fantasy back.

Brandon Aiyuk didn’t erupt in Deebo’s absence, but George Kittle took full advantage and scored easily the most fantasy points among all players in Week 13; his second touchdown catch was especially niceNick Bosa should be among the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year.

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle had a truly monstrous day in Week 13. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The announcers insisted Russell Wilson’s finger injury was healthy, and he was much more accurate (94th percentile CPOE) than his fantasy numbers may indicate … Of course, Adrian Peterson immediately led Seattle in carries, scoring a goal-line touchdown but getting just 1.5 YPC. The Seahawks backfield remains a stay-away in fantasy … DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett entered tied for 40th in targets per game, but both could be in store for nice finishes if Wilson is truly healthy.

Gerald Everett was the goat (the bad version) of Week 13, when he was solely responsible for two turnovers at the goal line (one lost fumble, one drop turned into a pick) … Seattle went for it on fourth down up 30-23 with six minutes left inside the 10-yard line. Forget the result (a lost fumble later in the drive); that’s one of the weirdest decisions I can remember a coach making since the infamous Matt LaFleur gaffe.

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

The first game all season Minnesota didn’t lead by at least a touchdown ended on the final play with a dramatic touchdown to give Detroit its first win of the season … With Adam Thielen exiting early with an injury, Justin Jefferson and Alexander Mattison were relied on heavily and each finished with big fantasy days (Jefferson was this week’s WR1). Both will be top-three fantasy starts at their position Thursday night (Pit) … Kirk Cousins also had a big performance (QB7) despite missing his left tackle and losing Thielen … Jamaal Williams acted as Detroit’s feature back with D’Andre Swift out but disappointed fantasy managers (while committing the first fumble of his career) thanks to surprisingly seeing just one target and Jared Goff throwing all three of the team’s touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals @ Chicago Bears

While many teams have come out slow after their bye this season, Kyler Murray was fantasy’s QB1 this week while also coming off a lengthy injury absence (and in a game with the slate’s worst weather conditions). Murray outscored all fantasy quarterbacks despite attempting just 15 passes, as his healed ankle allowed him to run again. It’s huge news for his fantasy value down the stretch … Not only is Arizona 7-0 on the road this season, they’ve won every game by double-digits … James Conner led all Cardinals with 36 receiving yards on just two targets, as weather played a role in the team’s underwhelming passing stats (DeAndre Hopkins saved his fantasy day with a TD catch but also saw just two targets) … After playing well on Thanksgiving, Andy Dalton was brutal Sunday (four picks). David Montgomery somehow finished as the RB3 this week in a blowout loss and while also losing a TD (overturned on a close review which preceded a Jimmy Graham one-yard score instead).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Tom Brady had a huge game (despite a shockingly bad pick-six), while Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette each averaged 10.8 targets. Godwin and Evans somehow didn’t score on 27 targets, so good luck to the Tre’Davious White-less Buffalo secondary in Tampa Bay next week … Russell Gage took advantage of facing a pass-funnel TB defense, while Kyle Pitts ghosted fantasy managers after a hot start Sunday … Matt Ryan fumbled three times and didn’t produce a touchdown, but at least he reached 200 passing yards for the second time over the last six games … I feel like we’ve been cheated out of nearly a decade of Cordarrelle Patterson’s career, but I guess it’s better late than never.

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

Another monster fantasy performance by Jonathan Taylor, who was fantasy’s RB2 this week despite not seeing one target and losing a late goal-line score to Deon Jackson. Taylor has become the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 pick in all 2022 fantasy drafts … The Colts’ defense bounced back after giving up 38 points last week (fumbles didn’t help), but Houston’s quarterbacks were a special kind of bad Sunday. The Completion Percentage Over Expectation for Tyrod Taylor (-30.7) and Davis Mills (the Detective was back on the scene with a -24.6 CPOE) were in the first percentile of games among all QBs over the last decade … Even with no alternatives in the Texans backfield, Rex Burkhead holds no fantasy value, while the team’s shaky QB play has destroyed Brandin Cooks’ … The Texans quietly have a good pass defense (No. 6 in DVOA), and the Colts had no reason to throw Sunday, so much bigger games are coming for Michael Pittman.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Jets

Gardner Minshew was terrific while replacing Jalen Hurts, finishing as a top-12 fantasy QB despite his running backs getting 36 carries. Resting a hobbled Hurts for a fired-up Minshew was unquestionably the right move especially with an upcoming bye, as the walking legend (99th percentile CPOE!) also kept me alive in a pool worth a mere $6M and down to 23 people left … Philadelphia entered leading the NFL in rushing yards yet without a player with a 100-yard rushing game, but Miles Sanders impressed while running for 120 on a sprained ankle Sunday ... Zach Wilson had three touchdowns with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter; he was quiet after that (the Jets had the ball just 70 seconds in the third quarter) but finished as a top-six fantasy QB this week anyway in a matchup with arguably the biggest OL/DL disadvantage of the week. Nonetheless, the Jets’ offense showed up Sunday, as the teams somehow scored touchdowns on the first six possessions of this game (NYJ didn’t even bother attempting to kick after Alex Kessman missed his first two extra-point tries).

I dare someone to draft Elijah Moore higher than me in 2022.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Justin Herbert’s 10.7 aDOT (average depth of target) was his highest in a game all season, as he attacked downfield like everyone has been screaming for him to do. It resulted in a big fantasy performance and 41 points scored for the Chargers (even with Austin Ekeler losing two fumbles). Let’s hope it continues … Jalen Guyton emerging as a deep threat is more important to LA than to fantasy managersJoe Burrow had to deal with missing his starting center and right tackle, injuring his finger and a Ja’Marr Chase drop turning into a pick, while Joe Mixon scored for the ninth straight game.

Tee Higgins has a real argument to be ranked ahead of Chase rest of the season.

New York Giants @ Miami Dolphins

The Giants kept it competitive while missing a bunch of injured players, but Saquon Barkley had nine yards from scrimmage at halftime and turned a team-high nine targets into just 19 receiving yards, as his incredibly disappointing season continues … Myles Gaskin left early, but it’s tough for any Miami back to have a ton of fantasy value given the team’s run blocking, no matter the favorable game script … DeVante Parker’s return didn’t hurt Jaylen Waddle or Mike Gesicki, who both saw 11 targets.

Washington Football Team @ Las Vegas Raiders

In a matchup with one of this week’s higher projected totals, Washington and Las Vegas entered the fourth quarter scoring a combined 13 points. Antonio Gibson lived up to this week’s DFS hype, racking up six targets (with a TD catch) with J.D. McKissic sidelined (Wendell Smallwood saw just three opportunities to Gibson’s 29). The same can’t be said for Foster Moreau, who failed to produce starting for Darren Waller (although “The Island” almost secured a 30+ yard TD) … Hunter Renfrow has become one of the safest PPR plays, while Josh Jacobs not only played through his injury but saw a career-high nine targets (securing all of them) after Kenyan Drake left early. Drake was carted with a season-ending ankle injury, so Jacobs’ fantasy value gets a boost … Logan Thomas had a ridiculous touchdown catch but would later leave with a serious knee injury, which could finally force Washington to target Terry McLaurin more.

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Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

I liked the over in this game with both defenses entering struggling badly, but instead both offenses continued to sputter in a typical AFC North defensive battle (that included the Steelers somehow having just 10 offensive plays at the first half’s two-minute warning). Ben Roethlisberger scored more fantasy points and was far more accurate (7.7 CPOE) than Lamar Jackson (-5.9), who responded to last week’s four-interception disaster with yet another shaky performance that included taking seven sacks. You know things haven’t gone as planned in Baltimore when the team’s most valuable fantasy player is Devonta FreemanDiontae Johnson dropped a 35-yard touchdown but scored two TDs anyway, finishing as fantasy’s WR2 this week … Mike Tomlin sounded offended (and blamed analytics) after the game by Baltimore going for two instead of overtime (a blessing for those who had Pittsburgh +4.5 ATS), ostensibly because it broke some old school football rule?

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Los Angeles Rams

Using an EPA+CPOE composite (read: the nerdiest yet arguably the best way to statistically grade quarterbacks), Trevor Lawrence ranked 72 out of 82 qualifying QBs since 2016 before his dreadful performance Sunday. At what point does this become a real concern? I can see the argument Lawrence shouldn’t be judged until "Bourbon" Meyer is gone, but it’s been an incredibly inauspicious start to the career of someone considered a generational talent. Zach Wilson entered the week ranked No. 78, for what it’s worth (and I better understand why Detroit was so reluctant to play David Blough, who ranks last among the 82 QBs) … Sony Michel benefitted from a favorable game script and acted as a workhorse as expected with Darrell Henderson injured, but he also got 5.0 YPC against a solid Jacksonville run defense. He’ll be a top-12 fantasy back any week in which Henderson sits.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

While the hype was strong for Javonte Williams making his first start with Melvin Gordon out, the rookie somehow exceeded expectations while finishing as this week’s fantasy RB1 despite Denver scoring just nine points (albeit totaling 400+ yards). The tackle-breaking machine saw a whopping nine targets, and managers are salivating at the thought of Gordon also missing next week’s home game against Detroit.

Kansas City unquestionably entered playing better defense than offense lately, but weather also played a role during Sunday night’s low-scoring game that included Patrick Mahomes (-17 CPOE) and Teddy Bridgewater (-9.2) struggling mightily. Pretty much every player but Williams failed to meet fantasy projections during the defensive struggle, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce not combining for even 50 yards … Andy Reid is now 20-3 coming off a bye, while Teddy Bridgewater continued being the league’s worst tackler during another pick-six.

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